With more and more social media sites popping up everywhere, the craze to have the next Facebook or Twitter continues to be relentless. Wikipedia lists ‘some notable, well-known’ active social media sites – ‘some’ being 190 – and even has a separate page for defunct websites, showing that this competitive trend shows no mercy.
So with almost two hundred ‘notable’ options out there, how do you know which to use for your site and how? Facebook and Twitter are the most obvious choices, but it’s essential to take time to create a strategy and see what works best for your particular needs.
Take time to find the sites relevant to you
Don’t just jump on the bandwagon. Investigate what’s out there, and make two lists of potentials – one for pages that require very little maintenance (e.g. a StumbleUpon link), and one for sites that require frequent updates and monitoring (e.g. Facebook).
When choosing sites, make sure they have an active following
Having active members is usually more important than having a large number of members, particularly as small sites give you the opportunity to gain prominence, enjoy less competition and let you take advantage of a more targeted audience.
Check the terms and conditions of each site carefully
If you have a design or photography site (for example) and you want to upload images to a networking site for exposure, clarify the copyright and ownership policies of the site first to avoid upsetting clients or losing ownership of your work.
Don’t be afraid of trial and error
When it comes to choosing the right social media sites don’t be afraid to have a go, but if something’s not working despite your best efforts then it’s time to move on. Make sure you don’t leave any blank pages behind you – ‘saving the name’ can be useful but at least include a link and a logo so people can identify you. This is something to watch out for especially when you’re signing up with multiple usernames that may become useful in future. Try to provide a redirect link to your main account or user page where possible to help people get to the right place.
Make sure you decide and allocate resource effectively
Spreading your time too thinly means that profiles will get neglected, so do a test over a set period and cut out the less successful ones. An abandoned page gives the impression that you don’t care or even that you’ve gone out of business, and spam and inappropriate discussions can run riot. Having a bad presence can easily be worse than none at all, so opt for consistency, and don’t promise scheduled content you can’t deliver on.
Keep up to date
Sign up for newsletters and regularly read the official blogs of the social networking sites you’ve joined. That way you can keep on top of any new features and implement them before your competitors, and also be aware of upcoming changes which may affect the way you operate.
Think about the purpose of your social media
Are you developing your brand, using it as a direct sales tool, improving traffic or communicating with customers? This handy infographic from cmo.com explores the strengths and weaknesses of ten common social networking sites.
The most effective campaigns are original
If you have an idea that’s different to everyone else’s, don’t be scared to try it out; it could lead to a publicity explosion. If it doesn’t work, then take the time to analyse it and figure out why it wasn’t successful or come up with potential improvements. If you’re using social media to host contests, try getting some feedback from participants about what they enjoyed and what problems they faced (if any) to gain more insight into user experience.